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CYSEC and Leaf Space partner to offer end-to-end cyber security protection for satellite communications

August 2020 by Marc Jacob

Leaf Space, an Italian company providing ground segment services for smallsats has signed an MoU consolidating a partnership agreement with CYSEC, a Swiss cybersecurity company, to offer end-to-end cyber security protection for satellite communications.

Small satellites with a size ranging from a shoebox to the size of a washing machine are revolutionizing the space industry by combining excellent capabilities with lower development costs and a shorter time-to-market, making them attractive for a whole new range of services relying on data collected in space. Known as the “Newspace”, this segment is the fastest growing of the industry, fuelled by venture capitals betting on shorter return on investments. Cybersecurity has not been historically a priority for space engineers, focusing on maximizing the available mass on board rather than adding extra security features. Today the situation is changing as small satellites are capable to collect very sensitive and valuable data, raising numerous questions on the resilience of the ground and space infrastructure against cyber attacks.

CYSEC is a cybersecurity company with a mission to offer smallsat operators the first off-the-shelf solutions protecting their infrastructure and data against cyber risks. Initially supported by the ESA Business Incubation programme to research the gap in the market and develop dedicated solutions, CYSEC is now releasing a full product portfolio for both the ground and space segments providing end-to-end cyber security protection for satellite communications. As a pioneer of ground segment as-a-service relying on a growing critical infrastructure counting ground stations distributed all over the globe, Leaf Space is well-positioned to understand the cybersecurity challenges faced by smallsat operators.

Because of the complexity of satellite architectures, there are many possible entry points for a hacker from which to eavesdrop, tamper with information, cause a service interruption or even worse take control of the satellites.

ARCA, CYSEC’s flagship product consists of a secured backend infrastructure that can run critical software and store sensitive data. Its main advantage is the simplicity of its integration as it is compatible with modern virtualization tools that software developers use today such as Docker, Kubernetes, VMWare, etc while using state-of-the-art certified hardware.

The collaboration between CYSEC and Leaf Space offers an end-to-end protection covering the ground station network and the mission control software on the ground hosted by the satellite operator.

The two partners are in advanced discussions with several operators to implement a common security architecture on the ground combining the Leaf Space network of ground stations and the mission control software in ARCA.

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